Wednesday, July 28, 2010

End of the Trans Canada West and the Sunshine Coast

July 26 and 27

So we made it to the western end of the Trans Canada Highway at Horseshoe Bay.

The T-Can continues on at Vancouver Island, but as you know we had to ditch that part of the trip. We had to cancel our reservations in Tofino, and it's hard to get last minute accommodations there, plus its very pricey.

So instead, we decided to surprise my cousin with an unannounced visit to Wilson's Creek on the Sunshine Coast. We took a 40 minute ferry to get there, and we were one of the last 10 cars on. The ferry ride was fun, and we ate a sandwich lunch I had prepared.

Wilson's Creek is about a 20 min ride from the ferry, and we were hoping like heck that my cousin and her 2 young kids would be home. Our luck my finally be changing, because everybody was home, and it was her first day off in 8 days. We went to the beach (do you sense a theme on this trip?) and went back to her house for a scrumptious supper of pasta with buffalo meat sauce and Caesar salad. DS was shoving it in - I guess he is ready for people food even if he only has 2 bottom teeth.
The next day we went, you guessed it, back to the beach. This time we went up the coast about 20 minutes to Katherine Lake park. The artificial beach was very sandy and the water was warm so the kids had a blast.

In the afternoon we said goodbye to our dear cousins and headed back to the ferry. Len is a huge fan of The Beachcombers, so we had to stop in Gibson's Landing and get these shots:
Caught the ferry just in time and drove to Abbotsford, where we hotelled it. Hopefully this is the last time - we are hoping to get our trailer tomorrow.

Markets, Beaches, Seafood, and Aquariums

July 23 to 25
Vancouver BC

Woke up Friday morning and decided to go to Granville Island. Picked up my cousin and drove over the Lion's Gate bridge. Traffic was kinda crazy going over the bridge, but that's Vancouver for you!

We had a nice tour around Granville, starting with a street performer – a contortionist.

We stopped at the food court for lunch - so many choices! We enjoyed a smorgesboard – Indian, sushi, perogies and cabbage rolls, and sausage rolls. Ate our lunch on the pier overlooking the boats and Vancouver skyline.

Hard to tour the shops with the girls, but they enjoyed playing in the Kids Marketplace. On the way back to the car we spotted some 'live art' – a guy balancing large boulders along the pier.

Got back to Deep Cove in the late afternoon and headed down to the 'beach' at the end of the street. It was high tide so there was no sand, but the water was great and everybody had fun. Friday night there was a live concert at Deep Cove park. I enjoyed dancing to 'Mostly Marley' and found my reggae groove. The girls played at the park, which was teeming with children much like an ant hill! DD2 and DS joined me in dancing for a few songs, but mostly it was just me! It's been so long since I danced!

On Saturday we woke up and my aunt wore her favourite summer dress, which meant it was a beach day. We packed snacks and spent a good part of the day there. It was low tide so we enjoyed a sand beach.

We found a starfish washed up, which we kept and are drying out. My aunt, the girls, and I went hunting for more starfish off the shore. We found a bunch of purple ones.

Towards the end of the day, we were joined by a girl DD1 met at the concert the night before who also joined us for supper. And what a supper! My aunt and uncle prepared a gourmet supper of mussels steamed in a coconut milk sauce, fresh toasted bread, and Dungeness crab legs. Who needs vegetables? DD2 tried the mussels, and liked the pink parts, but the kids ate hamburgers.

Sunday we decided to go to the aquarium and check out Stanley Park. The aquarium was packed, but we enjoyed watching the dolphin and beluga shows.

The shark tank was pretty cool, and the girls loved Clownfish Cove, a children's play area.

The last the we did was watch a 4D movie about the shallow seas. It was fantastic! We were sprayed with water, hit in the back by sea snakes, and vibrated as part of our experience. The movie was good too! DD1 was a bit scared, but both girls enjoyed it.

We walked and drove around Stanley Park for a bit - tons of giant trees! There was a huge wind storm a few years ago that blew a lot of them down - I can only imagine what it looked like before! Wish we had more time to explore the park on bicycles. Tried to see the Rose and Rhodenderon Gardens from the road, but we needed to get out. Wasn't willing to do that, as all 3 kids were sleeping :( Found another park to play in before heading back to Deep Cove.

Sunday night my aunt and uncle looked after the kids so DH and I could go on a date! Finally, some real couple time! We went to Arms Reach Bistro, just a quick walk back to the park. We had another fabulous supper - I had spaghetti with prawns and chorizo, DH had tuna with a pinapple salsa and we share a 1/2 L of white wine. Could thing it was a full bottle, because its a bit tricky to walk through the woods back to the house!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Osoyoos to Vancouver BC

July 22

Osoyoos was very dry and hot, it is a desert after all! We left highway 97 and took highway 3 (Crowsnest Hwy) to Hope through the Similkameen region. Still lots of vineyards at first.

The Okanagan is famous for its fruit stands, and we stopped at one in Keremeos for fresh peaches and plums. They were soooo good! At the fruit stand they had neet farm equipement at the end of the orchard rows.

The landscape was initially very hilly, dry and barren. It became more lush (more coniferous) as we approached Hope. The road was very twisty and steep around Princeton. In fact it was kinda crazy, check it out on a map, it follows a mountain pass and is definately not a direct route! It occured to me that we are now off the T-Can: we left it just before Vernon for the first time since we got on it near Brandon. Saw some Yukon and Maryland plates today.

The weather was iffy all day - we've had almost no rain for 3 weeks but we did get rained on in Canada's only desert! As we approached Hope, there were lots of low lying clouds (or were we very high?'), and DD1 was very excited to drive through one!

We got back on the T-Can at Hope and drove throught the Fraser river valley through Chilliwack and Abbotsford. We approached Vancouver around rush hour but had no traffic problems crossing in the city and over the second narrows bridge.

We landed in Deep Cove, in North Vancouver, to stay with my aunt. We are looking forward to spending a few days around Vancouver.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vernon to Osoyoos BC

July 21
odometer 93870

Had a nice breakfast with family out the deck overlooking lake. Got on the road about 9:30, driving south in the Okanagan along the 97. The scenery keeps getting drier - a real contrast between the arid hills and beautiful Lake Okanagan with its boats and parasailers.
After Kelowna, the landscape is more about orchards and vineyards and there is a stark contrast between the irrigated valley and arid hills. Lots of tourist stuff along this route - theme parks, inns, and campgrounds.

Osoyoos was a pretty, but pricey, tourist town right next to the Washington border. We checked into the Super 8 Motel and Len picked up some lasagna from the grocery store to heat up in our kitchenette. The motel had a pool and hot tub so the kids had fun. We got to watch TV for the first time in a while, and in bed at that, so that was a special treat for all of us.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Revelstoke to Vernon

July 20
odometer 93650

Spent a couple of hours this morning packing up the van with stuff we usually carry in the trailer. We figure we'll be gone a week or so. It's amazing what you can fit in a minivan - 5 people, a large dog, a dog crate, a chest of drawers, sleeping bags, pillows, playpen, stroller, food, swim bags, dishes, and on an on....

AFter packing up we went back to the hot springs until noon. Not as nice in the heat of the day - we didn't spend much time in the hot pool.

So now were traveling trailer free. Able to go much faster with much less gas. Luckily I have relatives out west where we can stay (hopefully).

Headed out for the Okanagan, such pretty country. Initially it was very agricultural, with lots of vegetable farms and giant sprinklers. As we neared Vernon, the landscape became rolling hills that are very arid, mostly brown dotted with conifers.

Called up my cousin (Dad's niece) in Vernon, and spent the evenign there. They have a beautiful spot overlooking Kalamalka Lake. Had a nice supper and visit, they were super hosts. Their 2 boys are nearly grown, last time I saw them was about 10 years ago. So good to catch up. I also got some phone numbers for cousins in Vancouver, so we will give them a call too.

Enjoyed wine overlooking the lake before heading to bed. Maybe traveling without the trailer isn't so bad.

Canyon Hot Springs, BC

July 19
odometer 93450

Hung around most of the day trying to get in touch with the axle manufacturer and get work done on the trailer. Finally wrapped that up around 1 pm. In the meantime, we took the girls to the park to play. We've seen all there is to see in Revelstoke, so I'm looking forward to moving on soon.

Fenten is worried about being left somewhere, today we found him in Meaghan's car seat waiting for us.

After leaving the garage, we headed out to Canyon Hot Springs, in between Glacier and Mount Revelstoke National Parks. It's a really nice RV resort with, you guessed it, hot springs. They had a cool pool (32 C) and hot pool (42). After supper, the girls spent a couple of hours in the cool pool, a great temperature for playing. We went into the hot pool a few times, although Meaghan initially screeched 'burning hot!' until she got used to it.

We had a nice supper and a the girls were wiped from all the swimming. Bath night for Thomas!

I'm going to miss our trailer, we drop it off for repairs tomorrow.

Skunk Cabbages and Giant Cedars

July 18

Now the network card on our computer has died, so I am not able to update the blog very easily. It's now July 22 so I have a lot of catching up to do! I won't be able to load pictures, as most public computers won't let you upload data. So just text for now.

We stayed at the KOA another day, its a great campground. Enjoyed some Beef Teriyaki they served up at the office as well as ice cream.

Today we checked out some trails. First we did the Skunk Cabbage boardwark that meanders through wetlands - a very rare environment for this area. Heard lots of warblers but couldn't make them out in the bushes and trees. Claire was pointing out different plants that she had learned about yesterday on another walk. Double Club is a large thorny plant that tears through clothes and skin, we saw a lot of it today. Lots of Skunk Cabbage too.

Had lunch at the picnic grounds near the trail and finally found a spot for Fenten to swim. He was in heaven. Quite hot today, but I haven't seen a single mosquito since we left Saskatchewan - I guess the nights are too cold in the mountains.

After lunch we went to the see the Giant Cedars. I'll load the pics as soon as I can, but suffice it to say they were outstanding. Whole families can reach around the trunks of these 500 year old cedars and hemlocks. It is a temperate rainforest - the only one in the world so far inland. Very quiet and serene, the size of the trees strikes awe in you.

Went back to the campground for a swing and supper. Girls are really enjoying the pool. Nights are nice and cool for sleeping.

Tomorrow we go back to the garage to get the paperwork started on the warranty on our trailer - wish us luck!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Meadows in the Sky

July 17

Called the dealer first thing this morning – they are going to work it out with the axle manufacturer. I think they understand the situation we are in, as I got all emotional talking to him. Had to get pictures of the axle and tires, and ran around Revelstoke trying to find a WIFI connection to upload the pictures.

Stumbled across a farmer's market and picked up some homemade Indian food for lunch – what a treat! Also picked up a cool garden ornament – a mosquito made of welded metal crap. A good souvenir of our trip!

Checked into the KOA for lunch – with a playground, laundry, WIFI and a pool, its bound to please everybody. After lunch we headed out to the 'Meadows in the Sky Parkway' which is a twisty, steep road that takes you to the top of a small mountain. We missed the blooming of the alpine meadows, but it was still a pretty drive with lots of scenic spots.

At the top there are some trails that overlook the Selkirks and another mountain range I can't remember now.

At the summit there is a cool metalart of an Native Chief, to honor all the native nations that lived on this land. Its funny that it is metal art like what we bought at the market.

At the top, DD1 finally got to see and touch snow in summer at the top of the mountain. She was please as punch. She and DD2 took a piece of snow and left it in the stroller cupholder to see how long it would last before melting.

Picked up supplies in Revelstoke before returning to camp. I discovered a hole in my bathiing suit and picked up a replacement at the Bargain Shop. It's a bit skimpy, but beggars can't be choosers.

DH and the girls swam while I nursed DD and got laundry started. We were hoping to make it to Van before having to hit a laundromat, but oh well. Late night tonight. Blogging outside - I can hear the fountain in the duck pond and the wonderful sounds of the trains. Canada is such a great country.

DH and I talked about the trip. We really want to go to Vancouver, but may have to pass on the Island to make our other destinations. Despite all the hassles with the trailer and visits to Emerg, we are having a good time. This is cherised time with our kids and we are really trying to remember that. DH and I seem to be able to be there for each other when we need it, and are working together to keep calm and happy. We are rock solid though, and I think if our marriage withstands these stresses so well we are good for at least 50 more years!

Friday, July 16, 2010


June 16

Another 'where-to-begin?' blog. We are having a terrible time with our trailer and have renamed Revelstoke to 'Revlestuck'.

We got a good start to the day, out of the campsite by 8 am. Feeling good until we stopped at the tourist info centre in Golden. For a while we noticed a funny sound coming from the trailer wheels (like chains dragging) and DH noticed the tires were really worn on the inside. In fact the original tire (the one that didn't blow) was worn right through the rubber. On a hunch, DH got under the trailer to check out the axel. It's bowed. In the wrong direction. Crap.

We called our dealer who told us to try to get to Vernon, BC where a sister dealership can help with repairs. Thankfully an RV repair in Golden could replace the bad tire with a good one.

But that was the highlight of the day. We couldn't get to the Vernon repair shop before the mechanics are gone for the day. It's a Friday – of course – so it won't be seen until Monday. Now we are very worried about driving too far with the trailer. It's not towing well, or is that our imagination? My FIL found an RV repair guy in Revelstoke, so we stopped there and had him take a look at it. The axel is bent. Badly made, badly designed, and doomed to fail.

Its a warranty job which is good and bad. Good in that we don't have to pay for it, but bad in that it could take weeks to get the work approved and order the part. Double crap. The mechanic in Revelstoke could order us a custom-built axel in less time to get it from the manufacturer, but how to get that approved? Of course, our dealer in Ottawa is now closed for the day. I wonder if we go to the Vernon dealer, can they invoice our dealer and let them deal with warranty stuff. But the Vernon guy does not have the part and would have to order it. He recommends we stay in Revelstuck, get the custom part, and force our dealer to swallow the cost and deal with warranties. We are on 'vacation' and can't wait 2 weeks for stuff to happen.

Had my first cry of the trip, very frustrated and overwhelmed. I have been trying to stay calm and relaxed through all of the crap we've been dealt, but this is a little much. Still, we are all healthy (now) and the kids are happy – all they really need is a park to play in and parents that are happy.

So we are not sure what to do. Our itinerary is kyboshed, but we still have reservations to try to meet or cancel. Turning back isn't an option, we are in BC! Short term plan – call our dealer Saturday am, play hard ball (I'm good at it) and get a game plan. Call relatives in Vancouver and Vernon and let them know what's going on. Try to relax and enjoy where we are. If we have to be stuck, it's beautiful here.

Spent most of the drive on the phone trying to sort out trailer stuff, but I did notice lots of tunnels along the T-Can through Glacier National Park. I assume they are for protecting cars from avalanches and rock slides.

Pretty scenary as we drove through the Selkirk Mountains.

As I write this, I can still hear the trains and their high pitched squel – I have always loved to hear trains as I fall asleep. I've been hearing them every since we started in the Rockies.